WIC Program in California

What is the WIC program in California? SNAP for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a special supplemental nutrition program in California for those who qualify. WIC SNAP provides free health care referrals, supplemental foods and nutrition education to low-income women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or non-breastfeeding post-partum as well as infants five years of age or younger. Continue reading for details about how to apply for WIC and what WIC benefits offer to approved California beneficiaries.

Who is eligible for WIC benefits in California?

To qualify for the California WIC program, you must be a legal resident of the state. Eligibility for the WIC benefits will also include being a woman who is pregnant, breastfeeding or post-partum as well as having an infant or child who is younger than five years of age who and has been medically diagnosed as being at nutritional risk. This includes fathers, grandparents and other caretakers of minors who meet the requirements of the WIC program. The WIC SNAP criteria for nutritional risk includes women and children who are underweight or suffer from conditions such as anemia or metabolic disorders, pregnant women with preeclampsia and infants who are failing to thrive. It also includes women and children who are at a nutritional risk due to an inadequate diet.

In addition to meeting the personal requirements on the WIC application, you must also have an income level that is between 100 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). If you or a family member is enrolled in another benefits program such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you automatically meet the WIC income requirements.

If you are still not sure if you qualify to apply for WIC, then you can take the WIC Eligibility Assessment test. You can find out about the assessment by contacting your local county WIC office. You will schedule an appointment so the officer will assess your case to see if you and your family qualify.

Find out more about applying for welfare programs in California successfully by reviewing the comprehensive information in our free guide.

How to Complete a WIC Application in California

Qualified California residents can apply for WIC online by using any internet-connected device or request benefits in person by visiting a local office. The easiest way to initiate the application process is to apply for WIC online, which allows the state to consider the request for benefits sooner. Petitioners who apply for California WIC online can also use the Eligibility Assessment test to determine if they qualify for food assistance.

Alternatively, you may submit your WIC application in person if you prefer by calling your local county WIC office and scheduling an appointment. During the in-person WIC application process, you will need to bring proof of identification for all eligible members requesting benefits. You will also need to furnish evidence of residence and income, which includes child support, unemployment compensation, foster care payments and other welfare benefits.


Benefits You Receive With the California WIC Program

If you meet the requirements to enroll in the WIC SNAP program, California will provide you with special food stamp vouchers to purchase healthy foods from WIC-authorized vendors. Authorized WIC SNAP foods include baby formula, cereal, bread, juice, milk, eggs, peanut butter, whole grains, yogurt, tofu, fresh fruits and vegetables. However, the specific foods beneficiaries can use their WIC benefits on may be dependent on their eligibility.

Another one of the WIC benefits you will receive is information about nutrition and health. This includes information on healthy eating for you and your family, exercise and playing with your toddler, support with breastfeeding your baby, what to do when your baby is crying and information about your health during pregnancy. The WIC program will also help you find health care and other community services.

Where can WIC benefit checks be used in California?

California disburses WIC benefits in the form of check vouchers. Approved beneficiaries can use WIC benefit checks to purchase food in any WIC-approved store in the state. Enrollees can spot these locations by looking for WIC-accepted welcome signs or by contacting their local office. Your California WIC checks can only be used in the state of California. Keep your WIC benefits checks in a safe place, as they will not be replaced if lost, stolen or become expired.

There is a limit to the number of WIC benefit checks you can use in one day. You cannot use the vouchers before the “First Day to Use”, which is printed on the front of the check. Try to make your WIC checks last through the month and do not to buy too much fresh food at once to avoid spoilage. You do not have to buy everything that is listed on the front of the check, only the items you wish to purchase. If you are not certain which brands of foods you can purchase with WIC, check your California WIC Foods brochure. It has a list of all eligible food, along with pictures to help you recognize them.

For comprehensive information on applying to WIC and SNAP successfully, review the details in our digital guide.

What Kind of Assistance Does the Department of Social Services Offer?

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) provides various types of assistance benefits to residents of the state. Through the CDSS, individuals and families can obtain temporary cash assistance, food assistance and more. Furthermore, applicants who are eligible for the benefits of one CDSS program will often qualify for the assistance benefits of another. Find out everything you need to know about the services and benefits provided by the Department of Social Services by downloading our helpful CDSS guide.

Who Can Benefit From California’s Department of Social Services?

To receive benefits from the CDSS, you and your family will need to meet certain eligibility criteria. The criteria used to determine an applicant’s eligibility typically include income, age, resources and citizenship, among other factors. Find out if you qualify for California DSS assistance benefits here.